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METS ONLINE: Wigginton makes grand entrance

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Bryan Hoch created the unofficial fan site MetsOnline.net when he was 14 and ran it successfully for six years until he was forced this week by Major League Baseball to shut it down. His columns will now be featured on FOXSports.com: Ty-ing the knot: It's always a nice story when a relatively unknown rookie makes a splash onto the major league scene. Unfortunately for the ' , his grand entrance comes just as his club begins to fade from contention yet again in the National League wild card race. Wigginton, a 24-year-old infielder from Chula Vista, Calif., had a day to hang his big league uniform by Sunday as he single-handedly tried to power New York past the , going 4-for-5 with a three-run homer. Wigginton's blast, the first of his major league career, came off of Arizona rookie . It's the second time in New York this season for the former UNC-Asheville third baseman, who was recalled late Saturday amid concerns about the status of (sore ribs) and (strained right groin). Wigginton was batting .306 (110-359) with five home runs and 46 RBI in 90 games with Norfolk (AAA) of the International League. In order to make room on the 25-man roster, the designated outfielder for assignment. Little was part of Wednesday's deal with the Colorado for righthander and had just three at-bats for New York with no hits, including a failed sacrifice bunt attempt in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. Stricken With bad luck: Just how ineffective has been lately? Consider this - since starting a slide by allowing a game-winning home run to the ' on June 24 and a grand slam to two days later, Strickland is 0-4 with a 6.58 ERA and two blown saves. Furthermore, the intensely-focused righthander - who was acquired from the in April for a package including to shore up a shaky bullpen - has allowed 17 hits in his 13-2/3 innings of work dating back to June 24, including four home runs. It's a far cry from what the had hoped for from Strickland, who was adamant that he "wasn't going to change" after allowing the grand slam to Sheffield on June 26 and said that he would "have mine with the Atlanta ." It just might be time to start making those adjustments after all. Mark-ed man: You got the feeling that whenever lefthander would finally give up a run, it would probably wind up hurting the in a big way. Indeed, Guthrie's string of 29.0 consecutive scoreless innings came to a halt on Sunday when he surrendered a three-run homer to Arizona's in the seventh inning, helping lead the to an eventual 12-7 victory. "The streak is no big deal," Guthrie said. "There's a lot of luck involved. Baseball is a law of averages, so I just try to pitch tough every game." Guthrie's streak was the longest in the majors this year and the longest by a relief pitcher since the ' slapped together a 28.0 inning streak dating from July 5-Sept. 5 of last season. It was the longest streak by a pitcher since Dwight Gooden hurled 31.0 consecutive scoreless innings in 1985. Thinking big: The will contend with the imposing 6'10" frame of "The Big Unit", , on Monday afternoon to avert a four-game sweep at the hands of the defending World Champions, but it's hardly uncharted territory. Since 1999, Johnson has been mediocre at best in taking on New York, tallying a 1-2 record with a 4.58 ERA in four starts. Among hitters, the injured Alfonzo has had the greatest margin of success against the last year's World Series Co-MVP, batting .429 (6-14) with a home run, but reserve has also earned quite a reputation as a nemesis of Johnson's. He has four doubles, a home run and 4 RBI to go along with a .286 (6-21) lifetime average against the Big Unit. Still, Johnson (15-4, 2.76) would appear to have the upper hand in this matchup against the struggling . He has won in three of his last four starts and has allowed just one run in his last 16.0 innings of work. Al's Wwell online: As of press time, there were 52 active auctions on the Internet site eBay.com offering bobblehead dolls for sale. The bobbleheads were intended as a free giveaway for children 14 and under as part of a Shea Stadium promotion on Saturday, but are currently fetching as much as $35.00 each for collectors who were able to nab one of the coveted items sporting the lefthander's likeness.
Tagged: Braves, Reds, Nationals, Mets, Cardinals, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Bruce Chen, Ty Wigginton

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